EP24: Learnings from the Space Industry – Part 2 of 2 – The Challenger Disaster and on

The Burn Up - All Things Agile

This episode is a follow-on from our previous episode about the Apollo space program. Marcel and Todd talk about the failures surrounding the Challenger Disaster as a cautionary tail for today’s leaders to consider to avoid the same pitfalls.

Please listen to “The Challenger Disaster: You’re wrong about – The Challenger Disaster” – 3rd Jan 2019 by Sarah Marshall and  Michael Hobbes for full context.

Please also listen to part 1 of this series.

The following topics are covered:

  • The impact the challenger disaster had on NASA and our recollection of events
  • The findings of the rogers commission
  • Importance of listening to expertise
  • Preventing a silo effect, where the procedures put in place box in taking logical action
  • Designing for safety and understanding safe parameters, risk and probability
  • The importance of communication unfiltered by middle managers
  • Findings of the house of representatives committee report
  • Dian Vaughn’s (sociologist) 1996 analysis of the disaster
  • Government contracting and its role in the disaster
  • High turnover at NASA and its role in the disaster
  • A discussion about SpaceX and how they are approaching spaceship development is a more Agile way

We hope you enjoy this episode.  As always please feel free to give us feedback and share.

Background info you may find interesting

The podcast we are referring to: You’re wrong about – The Challenger Disaster – 3rd Jan 2019 by Sarah Marshall and  Michael Hobbes

Challenger Disaster footage with radio loop:

Challenger disaster radio communication transcript

Rogers Commission report

Richard Feynman at commission hearing demonstrates the o-ring issues:

House of representatives report (PDF)

Controversial Edward Tuft diagram analysis https://www.researchgate.net/publication/11520001_Representation_and_Misrepresentation_Tufte_and_the_Morton_Thiokol_Engineers_on_the_Challenger

Dian Vaughn’s (sociologist) 1996 analysis of all 200k documents (by then the incident is a full fledged field of research, most based only on the exec summaries).


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